Almost Fearless

Holy Crap, What Have I Done? (Pre-trip jitters): Day 14 of 30w30d

This post is part of 30 Ways in 30 days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World. This series seeks to give you the practical, real world steps you need to take to get from wherever you are, to exactly where you want to be– traveling the world and living the lifestyle you want.


30 ways in 30 days, nerves, jitters, encouragement, best travel ideas

If you haven’t reached this critical milestone in your planning– don’t worry it will come.  A sudden realization of the weight of this life change will come crashing down on you like a bucket of cold water.  You may become momentarily religious, “Dear God…”

You’ll think some combination the following things:

  • Am I crazy?
  • Who am I to think I can do this?
  • I am going to screw up my entire life.
  • I am just being (pick your favorites) selfish/immature/irresponsible/unrealistic/foolish.

Then the real fun begins.  Your imagination, sensing an opportunity to shine, will step in.  Not only will you be traveling a world filled with danger, everything will go wrong and you’ll be powerless to fix any of it.  You’ll be homeless and penniless, ruing the day you ever decided to travel the world.  You are freaking out.

Don’t worry it happens to everyone.

You are not crazy. Crazy is never taking a chance on yourself, living a life based on fear.

You can do this. Once you get out there, you’ll see it’s surprisingly easy to do.  It only sounds hard.

You’re not going to screw up your life. You made your life what it is and you’ll still have those same skills and qualities that got you where you are now.  Give yourself some credit.  Your life isn’t as fragile as you think. Let go. When you release something you’re holding onto because of fear, you make room for a surprising number of positive things.

About being selfish or immature— it can be painful take something we really want.  It feels like we haven’t earned it.  We can’t claim it for ourselves because we’re waiting for someone to give it to us.  They aren’t coming.  The difference between the people who live the life they want and everyone else?  They just do it.  They make the decision, come up with a game plan and make it reality.  Just like you’re doing now.

This is the hardest part.  You’re amazing.  You’re almost there.  You can do this.

You may come back to this feeling several times during your planning.  When you sell the house.  When you sell your things.  The day you  quit your job.  I stayed up late on many occasions, trying to convince my husband to let me cancel the whole thing.

I can promise you one thing:  I swear that you will feel completely different once you leave.  You’ll be amazed at how stressed you were before and how far away and distant that feels.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this years ago.  Everything will change, but you won’t want to change a thing.  The hardest part is the first step.  Traveling?  That’s cake.


1.  Breathe.

2.  Talk to someone you trust.

3.  Write down all of your fears and then read them out loud.  Did that diffuse them?

4.  For each fear, write out your worse case scenario game plan. If everything goes horribly wrong, it’s still only a problem to be fixed.  Figure out your set backs and your show stoppers. What can you release? What do you need to plan around?  Adjust and reset.  It’s all workable.

5.  Once you feel better, I want you to take those lists and put them in an envelope, tucked away somewhere safe for future reading.  In a year from now, it’ll be nice to look back.  For now, get some sleep.


Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Truer words were never spoken. We had so many moments of looking at each other and thinking “What the hell are we doing!?!” About a week before we left it started to get easier. It started to be exciting again, instead of just overwhelming. It really did feel as if the hard part was over.
    We left three months ago. Our lives, and our children’s lives, will never be the same.
    .-= Brenna Gibson Redpath´s last blog ..Hope Hertz Doesn’t Read This! (Germany’s Romantic Road) =-.

  • Oh boy, can I identify with this! I think a lot of people never even get to the planning stages because of these thoughts. Our fears of an unknown future and what others will think about us hold us back from really even considering taking the plunge to travel or move to a new country. Taking that leap is the scariest and most amazing thing I have ever done!
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..Battling Expat Fat at Aspria Brussels =-.

  • I had lost about 5-10lbs in the last few months before leaving home, and it wasn’t because of my impressive workout regime. I think it was a combination of anxiety and excitement, but I never thought about backing out – I just wanted my resignation/departure day to finally arrive!

    “About being selfish or immature” — Even now that my RTW trip is over, and I’m back home, I sometimes think I was selfish in undertaking the whole thing. I’ve had enough people tell me I shouldn’t see it like that, but every now and then the thought pops back in my mind.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Now Available: Free Dare Me! eBook =-.

  • Oh boy I remember this feeling. No matter how much I prepare it always hits me hard the last couple days before I leave. All of a sudden it all seems so hard and well, CRAZY. Really crawling into bed indefinitely seems like a much wiser decision.

    I think working through that fear is an important part of the trip experience. To be scared as crap and get on that plane anyways is one of those pivotal moments of travel that makes you realize you can do most anything.

    Plus that adrenaline jolt is actually pretty useful once you get going!
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Planning Your Travel Budget (Part 3 of 4) =-.

  • I haven’t been nervous or anxious yet (although, I do still have 2 weeks until I leave). My last day of work has come and gone and made me a little more excited, but recovering from surgery has put a damper on my excitement.

    Plenty of stress is involved, along with feeling guilty. Leaving friends and family makes me feel a little guilty (especially that my Mom will not be able to see me), but then I realize this is MY life and she can always come and visit and I can do the same.

    Great post, thank you!
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Shoulder Surgery…and Brodie =-.

  • My two cents: Tune out the naysayers. I just assumed everyone would be so happy for us when we decided to leave (because I would’ve been for them), but I was so surprised when some people just repeatedly told us how crazy (unreasonable, foolish, etc.) we were. There were plenty of people that were happy for us too. I just had to remember to listen to those people.
    .-= Pond Jumpers: Croatia´s last blog ..learning about the siege on Sarajevo =-.

  • I agree with Pond Jumpers – you would think most people would be happy about your experience, but there are so many naysayers out there that can add to your fear and stress. It’s important to keep in mind that it is okay and that there are people out there who are doing it and loving it.

    That is one reason we started our site, Briefcase to Backpack, so that we could offer a support community for like-minded people – the corporate American looking to take a traveling career break. Unlike most other countries where gap years & career breaks are common, the concept of leaving your job to travel (even in a good economy) is not as acceptable in the US.

    And the internet has made it much easier to seek out others who can offer you the support you need to get over your fears.

    Thanks for the great series!
    .-= Michaela Potter´s last blog ..Culture Shock: Language Barriers =-.

  • This is the stage I am at right now. I was super excited about the 5 month sojourn I’ll be taking to India and suddenly, about a month from departure, I hit a wall of fear.
    I am feeling my comfort zone seemingly shrink daily!
    I am afraid of getting sick, of getting lost, of being a woman traveling alone by train, running out of money…etc etc etc

    It’s hard but I am still going…mainly because I can’t get a refund on the $1200 airfare!
    I’m sure once I’m there I’ll be too busy and astonished by daily sites to be afraid but man am I quaking now!
    .-= Tammy~ CrypticFragments´s last blog ..Stationery Designs =-.

  • Ah….such good advice, and not just for travel.

    All of the same applies for any new creative venture we’re embarking upon.

    I found myself going oh yeah…I remember how that felt…

    and how it still feels as I prepare for the next big thing.

    I guess getting completely freaked out can be taken as a good sign that we’re really on to something good!

    Again, I’m really enjoying this 30 day series. Really good stuff!
    .-= Lisa Sonora Beam´s last blog ..Feeling Unsuccessful? =-.

  • I’ve moved overseas four times and I still get the pre-trip jitters. I think I’ve ruined my entire life, that I’ve gotten myself into something I can’t handle, and in general just freak out about everything. As long as you don’t let the jitters actually stop you, I think they can serve as a good push to get everything really organized and ready to go.
    .-= Tanya´s last blog ..Salad Surprise =-.

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